It was 1987. My mom had recently married my stepdad, and our new family needed a new beginning. Like those who had headed out west decades before us, we too were wanting a fresh start. So from the farmlands of Indiana to the hills of Northern California, we drove.
I remember that trip with my brother and I in the backseat of our moving truck like it was yesterday. I too was needing a new start, and I remember wondering what lay ahead for each of us.
Last week, I traveled back to that same area of California with my husband and three daughters. It was my girls’ Spring Break and my oldest, for her birthday, wanted to see the Full House home and where I went to middle school, since she is now the same age I was when I lived there.
After landing in San Francisco and driving to our hotel, the memories filled my mind. And the thought hit me out of nowhere: look at how I have redeemed you, Angela. You had no idea what I was doing in your life at that time you and your family moved here, but I did. You felt broken and disregarded, but I took that pain and used it for good. Even at that tender age, I was preparing you.
“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you.
I call you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I am with you;
when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not harm you.
For I am the Lord your God.”
What God began in my life almost thirty years ago, I was able to look back and say, “I see it now, Lord. I see your goodness. I see your loving kindness and redemption.”
There on the highway, as we headed to the town where I once lived, I began to share with my girls the beauty of God’s redemption as tears filled my eyes. There is a blessing in growing older and seeing God’s hand in your life when you couldn’t see it in your younger years. Storms come, and waters rise, but by God’s goodness, I was not swept away.
What Satan meant for harm, God turned and used for good.
Little did I know back then what God would do with my life. How He would use a broken girl and place dreams in her heart that He would one day fulfill. He is good, sweet friends, and the work He does in our lives is good, too.
A few weeks later I saw another picture of God’s goodness through my Instagram feed. That morning I saw a church had tagged Love God Greatly in a picture and was going through one of our older studies. Curious, I clicked the link to see where the church was located. To my surprise and I’m sure God’s delight, the church was located in the exact town I use to live — the very town we were traveling to that day to show my girls my home and middle school!
(Oh and on a sidenote, see that brick behind me? Yeah, my stepdad, brother and I put that in when we lived there! I couldn’t believe it was still there after all these years!)
The timing was perfect.
As I further investigated the church, I saw they were having a women’s night at their church that very night!
Only God could plan something so extravagant. Only God could go so far to show His powerful hand of redemption and love. He is in the details of our lives. Nothing is a coincidence.
To the sweet women’s surprise at Harvest Church in Vacaville, California, I crashed their event, but only for a few minutes before it began. I had to thank them for doing our studies and let them know what an incredible blessing it was to me to hear that God was using Love God Greatly there in a town that I love. A town that He used to give me a fresh start.
Sweet friend, I don’t know where God has you right now but let me encourage you with this: He sees you, and He loves you. And like He says in Isaiah 43:2, when you pass through the waters, He will be with you.
Don’t fear what lay ahead; God is with you. God is writing His amazing story of redemption and you, dear one, are included in that story. You might not see it now, just like I didn’t, but trust God. He is working on your behalf; He will redeem the heartache, brokenness, and pain.
“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you. I call you by name, you are mine.“- Isaiah 43:1
How has God helped you to conquer your fears and redeem your life?
Love God Greatly!